Licensing Focus – Re-Imaging PCs

Many IT Pros may be looking at re-imaging their pre-installed OEM images with a standard image. However, It’s less clear how this works from a licensing perspective. I have included some of the rules around re-imaging your PCs and the caveats that you should look out for to not fall foul of mis-licensing.

Re-Imaging Criteria

  1. Volume Licensing customers who have licensed Microsoft software products from an OEM, through a retail source, or under any agreement other than their Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement may use copies made from Microsoft Volume Licensing media to re-image their devices.
  2. Re-imaging is permitted if the copies made from the Volume Licensing media are identical to the originally licensed product .
  3. Customers can use these copies from Microsoft media only if they are the same product and version, contain the same components, and are in the same language
  4. Re-imaging using the full version media requires that customers must also have licensed  full OEM or full FPP retail product
  5. Re-imaging with an "upgrade license", the device must have a full underlying OEM or full FPP retail license.
  6. If the customer has a FPP upgrade, and wants to re-image with Volume License Media, there again must be an underlying ‘qualified’ base license.
  7. Organizations do not have the right to reimage using OEM media.
  8. This must have the same Version, Edition, Components and Language

It is important to recognize that under the Microsoft Re-imaging criteria, the image must be the same product, for example Office Professional cannot be re-imaged with Volume License Media Office Professional Plus. (This is not considered the same product and does not have the same components)

This is explained in the Microsoft White Paper on Re-Imaging.

“The 2007 Office system sold through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs is an Enterprise Product with a different user interface, bypass enablement, and tools. Designed for enterprises, the 2007 Office system sold in Volume Licensing empowers IT administrators with tools for deploying, managing, and customizing the product, and provides end users with additional functionalities.” (Microsoft White Paper)

Microsoft view the Office Suite acquired under Volume Licensing as a different product. Conversely this does restrict how customers can re-image OEM with VL . (Since the versions must have exactly the same component products)

Do I have the right to reimage with a prior version of my licensed product?

You may reimage using a prior version if the license terms accompanying the software that you wish to reimage permit you to use a prior version in place of the licensed version.  Again, the eligibility requirements as stated above regarding product and version, components, and language apply.

Different components: The 2007 Microsoft Office system suites must have exactly the same component products. For instance, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 licensed through the OEM, system builder, or FPP channel and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing are not the same product. They also do not share the same components. Therefore, you cannot reimage in this example.

Enrollment of OEM Office 2010 Licenses into Volume Licensing

Customers who want to buy Software Assurance for certain Office 2010 licenses acquired from an OEM may do so in the Open License and Select programs within 90 days from the date those licenses are acquired. Customers under Open Value may acquire Software Assurance for Office 2010 licenses within 90 days from the date those licenses are purchased (this does not apply to the Open Value company-wide option).


By acquiring Software Assurance coverage for an OEM copy of Microsoft Office 2010, the customer is eligible to “step into” an equivalent edition of Office 2010 offered through Volume Licensing. This includes every application included in the Volume Licensing edition. The following table shows the mapping of OEM versions to Volume Licensing versions when Software Assurance is purchased.

Note: OEM Office Professional 2010 maps to Volume Licensing Office Standard 2010 rather than Office Professional Plus 2010. This is because Office Professional Plus 2010 contains several components (e.g., Communicator 2010, InfoPath 2010, SharePoint Workspace 2010 and the Advance Server Integration Features), that are not present in the OEM version of Office Professional 2007.

On enrolling OEM licenses into the Microsoft Volume Licensing Program, customers are eligible to purchase Step-up Licenses from Office Standard 2010 to Office Professional Plus 2010.

Microsoft Office 2010 Product Snapshot

Microsoft Office 2010 provides a wide range of powerful new ways for people to do their best work from anywhere—whether they are using a PC, Smartphone, or Web browser.* To provide customers with more flexibility to best meet their unique needs, Microsoft offers a variety of Microsoft Office 2010 suites.

The Microsoft Office 2010 suites available through Volume Licensing include:

  • Microsoft® Office Standard 2010
  • Microsoft® Office Professional Plus 2010
  • Microsoft Office 2010 suites available through Retail and / or OEM:
  • Microsoft® Office Starter 2010 (OEM only offering)
  • Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2010
  • Microsoft® Office Home and Business 2010
  • Microsoft® Office Professional 2010
  • Microsoft® Office Professional Academic 2010

VL Migration


New PC

Office 2010 Starter – It comprises of Word Starter and Excel Starter. As pointed out earlier, this is a new SKU. Both applications it includes are limited-functionality, advertising-based ones. They are intended as a free alternative which will be pre-installed on new machines only (actually it replaces Microsoft Works), and will allow customers not traditionally paying for a new version of Office (or not ready to buy Office 2010 at the time of PC purchase) to try the new applications. It is licensed only for the PC it came pre-installed in, and it includes no installation media. Once again: It’s free of charge.

OEM and FPP and PKC (Product Key Card)

2010 Home & Student
– It comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It is strictly for non-commercial use. The concept behind this Suite is known from the same-name Office 2007 suite; when OEM or PKC it is licensed only to the PC it was sold with, while when FPP it can be installed in up to 3 PCs.

Office 2010 Home & Business – It comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. One thing to note is that Outlook no longer comes with the Business Contact Manager (BCM) in the OEM, PKC and FPP Office Suites; Outlook with BCM is only available in Volume License SKUs. As pointed out earlier, this is a new SKU; it is intended for home-based businesses and dual users. It is the entry-level commercial Office 2010 Suite.

Office 2010 Professional – It comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook (again, no BCM), Publisher, and Access. This Suite is the most upscale from the ones available outside of Volume Licensing.

Volume Licensing (VL) only:

Office 2010 Standard – It comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook with BCM, and Publisher. This is the basic Suite for businesses that have bought a VL program (requires at least 5 PCs).

Office 2010 Professional Plus – It comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook with BCM, Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Communicator, and SharePoint Workspace (formerly Groove). This Suite is optimized for server integration and is the perfect SKU for all the Exchange, SharePoint and UC capabilities. It features advanced IRM (first introduced in Office 2003), Instant Messaging and Presence.



2 thoughts on “Licensing Focus – Re-Imaging PCs

  1. Great info, wish I read it before we bought 50 copies of Office 2013 Home and Business!

    Can you clarify, to deploy these copies, via MDT/re-imaging, I will need to purchase one copy of Office Standard 2013 VL as well as 50 x Software Assurance Enrollment into VL?


    • Hi, no problem, but definitely worth getting in touch to talk this through based on your comment. Send me an email with your details and I can make sure we get this sorted correctly.

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